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Reader Reviews

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GlobalStar SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker

in Miscellaneous Products

Average Rating
3.13 / 5 (8 reviews)

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John Haley
( Quoddy )

New York/Vermont Border
GlobalStar SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker on 01/28/2008 09:39:54 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 1 / 5

I purchased a SPOT Personal Satellite Trackier unit from REI and activated it with GlobalStar for unlimited service on January 24. The product and service are almost totally useless for anyone who is on the move. There is no signal in anything but the most completely open space, and then ony after a long waiting period.

Although I can return the unit, I'm stuck with the service charges.

GlobalStar with which the unit is activated has a NO REFUND policy. In order to try the unit, I paid $157.93 less than 4 full days ago. I tried it for 3 days and found it TOTALLY lacking in real world useability. In otherwords, you have to pay to even try it, and then you are screwed. Be warned!

I've continued to use/try the unit. I'm almost considering a 2 now. It will usually work in a wide open space, but even then is sporadic. Under trees, even sparse bare ones, it doesn't work.

Edited by Quoddy on 02/14/2008 10:53:11 MST.

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Mike Saxton
( Hokie )
Spot Review on 02/01/2008 06:19:31 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 1 / 5

Completely agree per my earlier review. As I have continued to try it, I have found it so worthless that I consider it absolutely dangerous. You can not even tell when it does send a signal with certainty and you could be relying on it for emergency backup while not realizing it has not transmitted. I have found it transmits maybe 1/20 times when I expected it should and never while I was on the move even when propped on top of my head for 30 minutes.

Conditions: AT Del Water Gap to CT Border in 30-40 degree weather Nov and Dec in weather ranging from clear to rainy. 90% tree covered but no leaves this time of year.

Edited by Hokie on 02/03/2008 05:14:47 MST.

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Richard Peters
( rhpeters )
A different experience on 02/02/2008 16:15:00 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I just used the device on a traverse of the Wapta Icefield. Worked as advertised. Each night when we arrived at a hut, I turned on the unit, pressed the OK button and left it on for a couple of minutes and then put it away. The people on my email list got every message I sent.

Robert Miller
( )
Pleased so far on 02/13/2008 06:02:10 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I have had my unit for over a month now, I have had it in the open and in dense bush. The tracking works fairly well but will not send every 10 minutes, my experience is about 80% sent. However the other options sent every single time. I think that the difference between the tracking option and the other 3 options is that the other 3 options actually transmit 3 signals instead of just one. Personnaly, I would not go into the bush without it

Joe Kuster
( slacklinejoe )

Works for me on 03/17/2008 22:23:30 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I have to wonder if some of the units out there are possibly defective judging from other reviews.

I've had mine since they first came out and I have apparently had a radically different experience testing this unit than some of the others.

I've used mine throughout tons of places where my standard GPS had a horrible time syncing and given 5 minutes I never had the spot fail to send a signal.

Here are the limitations as far as I can tell:
While moving it takes a while to sync if you just turned it on. The same is true for my Gecko 301. This is easily fixed by leaving the unit on.
You have to know what to expect to tell if it sent the signal. I keep reading about how people couldn't tell it sent, but I've always been able to see mine flash the acknowledgement if I wanted to verify. I just toss it on the ground while I'm cooking dinner and wait for the double flashes which are eye catching in the evening light.

I think a lot of folks are giving up and turning the unit off too soon. You have to plan on the initial GPS sync taking 4 minutes and then up to 10-15 for all three signals to go out (it sends 3 different times just in case, but filters it down to 1 for your emails & etc). Sure, if your on the move this isn't great since it's fix is slow that way. If however you are in an emergency your likely stationary anyway.

I've had luck leaving it on, hitting the OK button and just tossing it in the top pouch of my pack and the signal went through.

The good: I've sent over 100 signals now and have yet to have a single signal not go through, even in canyons, heavy forest coverage, in heavy snow/storm condtions and even cold starting it 1,500 miles away from the last point with no issues.

It also sipps batteries very lightly. The manufacturer claims nearly 1 year in standby mode, which is why I really wonder why people keep turning theirs off during trips only to suffer increased sync time. I've left mine on during dozens of trips - effectively weeks worth of on time and my orignal batteries have plenty of charge according to my multimeter.

Overall, my Gecko 301 is less reliable in signal fixes, as is my Holux GPS receivers I use for auto navigation.

For me, it works as advertised and it has actually gained my trust. Hitting that occasional OK button has given my family a lot of peice of mind so I get a lot less flak and they don't unnecessary worry nearly the same when I go solo.

I also need to state that I do not use the tracking feature. I've heard it's spotty but the manual OKs have been fine for me.

The only downsides to me are it could be a bit lighter, have a better message sent indicator and they need to not charge as much on the yearly subscriptions.

Edited by slacklinejoe on 03/17/2008 22:28:59 MDT.

Martin Ritsi
( fmritsi )

Sierra High Trail
It really works on 01/09/2009 16:57:44 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I have to weigh in on this becuase I almost didn't buy this based on the "spotty" (ha ha)reviews and my desire to have a dependable emergency device. I haven't got on my backcountry trip yet, BUT I have been testing this extensively so I know what to expect and I almost can't get it to not work. I just can't figure why people are having so much trouble. I have had it indoors, in a closet and it still sends the "I'm OK or Help" message. I've gone under complete tree cover and it worked too. I think people are just not leaving it on long enough. Sometimes my messages go through real quick, but in the "closet" test I left it for the full 20 minutes and it sent. The only time it didn't work was the "refrigerator" test. I put in our refrigerator and when I came back to it after a while, the lights were blinking out of sync...that's how you kow it is not connecting. I'll have it out in the High Sierra's for 3 weeks off trail and I will report after that trip as well. But for now I am REALLY happy I took a chance and bought this. By the way...I use my GPS for tracking not the SPOT and mine came with the tracking subscription...I concur that this does not seem to send track points as often as it is supposed to, but my Garmin gives a perfect trail to download when I get home, and I still need it for navigation so no problem for me, that is not why I bought this.

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Garmin GPS priced at: $165.98
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Patricia Combee
( Trailfrog )

Northeast/Southeast your call
Mixed "signals" on how well it works on 01/11/2009 18:38:02 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

This is a follow up review. Have had my SPOT unit for nearly a year now. The unit seems to not work very well in mountain areas, in most cased less than 20% send rate. (Alleghenys of WV). It did work quite well on a section hike of the AT from Front Royal north to Harpers Ferry; about 85% send rate. This was in mid-September 2008, with leaf cover most of the way.
I have discovered that the send rate is much better when I carry the unit strapped to the top of my sleeping pad, which is on top of my Mariposa. This puts the unit above my head, so no part of my body is blocking the antennas signal to the satellites. I am not sure I would trust my life to the unit; the SPOT folks need to greatly improve the unit interface and Globalstar needs better satellite coverage. That said, as a way to involve folks at home in my hike, even sporadically, is a good thing. I will probably renew my service in March with much more wisdom on how the unit will work in my area.

Edited by Trailfrog on 01/11/2009 18:40:40 MST.

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Bob Kiley
( Wuleebear )

Mtn's of Western North Carolina
Sometimes it does and Sometimes it ... on 01/11/2009 19:29:13 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

We purchased several SPOTS last fall to support a forest based project in Northern Georgia. Despite numerous complaints to the support folks`at SPOT, we continue to only have a 25% success rate`when sending "OK" messages.
I have no faith in this product and would not recommend it.

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